Compaq Evo review: Compaq Evo

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.9
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 9.0
  • Battery life: 5.0
  • Service and support: 9.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Light for its size; great keyboard and screen; versatile docking station; three-year warranty.

The Bad So-so battery life on primary cell; no FireWire port.

The Bottom Line Light weight, good looks, and versatility make Compaq's business-class thin-and-light, the Evo N610c, a solid bargain.

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Early in 2002, we praised the sleek Compaq Evo N600c thin-and-light notebook, giving it an Editors' Choice. Unfortunately, the updated model falls a bit short of that mark. The Evo N610c business notebook hangs onto most of the features we liked in the N600c, then boosts some specs and the notebook's overall speed. It's too bad the battery life on the N610c's primary cell is weak, although the system is so reasonably priced that you can buy a second battery without breaking the bank. The Evo N610c is a fine business laptop, just not quite as stellar as the Dell Latitude C640 and the IBM ThinkPad T30. The N610c looks almost exactly like the N600c, sharing the motif seen in the rest of the Evo family: black magnesium alloy with silver touches. And as far as thin-and-lights go, it's one of the thinnest and lightest, measuring 12.1 by 9.8 by 1.2 inches. Plus, its 5.6 pounds can drop down to 4.8 pounds if you use the plastic module in the MultiBay (more on this below). That's a marvelous weight, especially for the business traveler who needs the power and the options of a thin-and-light but the portability of an ultraportable notebook.

The MultiBay can accept a variety of drives, including CD-ROM and DVD/CD-RW combo drives.Left and right mouse buttons sit above and below the touchpad.
Versatility is one of the trademarks of the Evo N610c. Its hot-swappable proprietary MultiBay, for instance, accepts a long list of options: a floppy drive, a second hard drive, a battery, the aforementioned weight saver, or various optical drives such as a DVD/CD-RW combo drive or a plain-Jane CD-ROM drive.

The silver bulge on the lid, called the MultiPort, is also useful. It lets you connect to multiple wireless standards such as 802.11b (Wi-Fi) or Bluetooth. Compaq also plans to migrate the MultiPort technology to future wireless standards, such as 802.11g. One small quibble with the MultiPort module is that it sticks out above the rest of the notebook. If you have to flip the Evo on its lid to add more memory (for instance), it rocks a little and doesn't lay flat.

Compaq's proprietary MultiPort connects to a variety of wireless standards, including 802.11b and Bluetooth.Pointing stick might get in the way.
The 14-inch display supports a dense but very crisp native resolution of 1,400x1,050, even brightness, and highly saturated colors. The keyboard feels great, too, with a perfect layout (all keys are in the standard Windows layout) and responsive keys. We like the inclusion of both a pointing stick and a touchpad, although the pointing stick, nestled between the G, H, and B keys, might sit a tad low for some, causing you to hit neighboring keys as you maneuver. Left- and right-mouse buttons nestle atop and below the trackpad. The Evo N610c is well stocked for a thin-and-light notebook, boasting a 2GHz Pentium 4-M processor, 256MB of DDR SDRAM memory (expandable to 1GB), a roomy 40GB hard drive, and a 32MB ATI Mobility 7500 graphics controller. The ports and slots are mostly plentiful, but the Evo unfortunately lacks a FireWire port. You do, however, get IrDA; serial; parallel; VGA; NTSC/PAL video-out; a 56K modem; Ethernet; headphone; microphone; and two of the new, faster USB 2.0 ports. Both USB ports are on the back edge--inconvenient if you use them a lot. (Other vendors put at least one USB port on the side edge for easier access.)

For a business notebook, the Evo N610c includes several user-friendly features. Four user-programmable buttons reside above the keyboard and come preset, but you can change each to launch the application of your choice. The speakers, which also rest above the keyboard, deliver decent sound for a notebook, although nothing like the rich sound from bigger laptops such as the Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503.


Program these four buttons to launch any application you want.

On the left side, you'll find two Type II (one Type III) PC Card slots. Unfortunately, the Evo N610c ships with easy-to-lose, plastic PC Card dummies, rather than spring-loaded doors to protect the machine's innards.

Bundled software is another Evo strong point. With the N610c, you'll get a choice of Windows XP Pro or Windows 2000. Other bundled apps include Adobe Acrobat Reader, Roxio Easy CD Creator 5.0, and WinDVD 3.2. Thin-and-light notebooks simply can't match the speeds of bigger, more powerful desktop replacements. Regardless, the Compaq Evo N610c is very fast for its class, lagging just a tad behind the highly praised Dell Latitude C640 in mobile performance--no surprise, as the two have almost identical specs. The Evo roundly beats the IBM ThinkPad T30 because of the ThinkPad's slower 1.8GHz processor.

Mobile application performance
Longer bars indicate faster performance
Dell Latitude C640
137 
Compaq Evo N610c
136 
IBM ThinkPad T30
123 


Find out more about how we test notebook systems.

System configurations:

Compaq Evo N610c
Windows XP Home; 850MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82815 graphics controller 4MB; IBM Travelstar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm

Dell Latitude C640
Windows XP Professional; 2GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm

IBM ThinkPad T30
Windows XP Professional; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 16MB; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm Because of its slightly underpowered 14.4V, 4,000mAh cell, the Compaq Evo N610c's battery life just doesn't cut it. The similar Dell Latitude C640 comes in first place, lasting a full 54 minutes longer than the Evo N610c. Even the IBM ThinkPad T30 outlasts the Evo by 29 minutes in our tests.

Battery-life test
Time is measured in minutes; longer bars indicate better performance
Dell Latitude C640
192 
IBM ThinkPad T30
177 
Compaq Evo N610c
138 


To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both applications performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebook systems.

System configurations:

Compaq Evo N610c
Windows XP Home; 850MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82815 graphics controller 4MB; IBM Travelstar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm

Dell Latitude C640
Windows XP Professional; 2GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm

IBM ThinkPad T30
Windows XP Professional; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 16MB; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm We're thrilled to see that Compaq doesn't saddle the N610c with a typical and paltry one-year warranty. Instead, the company offers a three-year, worldwide limited warranty that allows for carry-in or pickup service. You also get toll-free phone support 24/7. Various other reasonably priced warranty options are available for purchase from Compaq, too. Compaq's Web site serves up a variety of useful support resources, including instructions for contacting tech support via e-mail or phone; a searchable knowledge base; and downloadable software, drivers, and user guides.

We also appreciate the paper documentation that comes with the system. The Evo N610c arrives with a simple, color setup poster that instructs you how to plug in and turn on the laptop. It also includes the Getting Started guide, which takes you through the system's hardware and software features. Hard-copy and CD-based guides for installing and using MultiPort modules come with the system.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep 1, 2002
  • Installed Size 256 MB
  • CPU Intel Pentium 4-M 2 GHz
  • Resolution 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
    1400 x 1050 ( SXGA+ )
  • Color Black
  • Weight 5.5 lbs
  • Optical Drive 1 x CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - removable
    DVD-ROM - removable
  • Graphics Processor AGP 4x - ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 - 32 MB DDR SDRAM
    AGP 4x - ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 - 32 MB DDR SDRAM